Refrigeration Without Electricity

You can find some amazing things at a steam pageant. For instance.....

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

That thing in the picture is a Crosley Icy Ball refrigerator. Circa 1928 to 1938. It didn’t use any electricity. It used heat from a kerosene lamp to make the inside cold.

You can learn more about the amazing Icy Ball device at this Wikipedia link: Crosley Icy Ball

And if you would like to make your own Icy Ball, check out this link: Icy Ball Plans

If someone actually makes one of these things, please tell me about it.


Tabletop Homestead said...

I've bookmarked the links on this to show to my wonderful, capable, husband. Thanks.


kabri said...

That is amazing, I did not know such things existed, thanks for the info!!!

pelenaka said...

Did you run up, jump up & down like I did when you saw it? When I snaped my pic there wasn't a twine baracade - hmm maybe I was the reason one was installed.
~~ pelenaka ~~

Herrick Kimball said...


I was excited but I'm not given to public bursts of overenthusiasm. :-)
I saw it from a distance and said to my sons, "Boys, that looks like a Crosley Icy Ball." And it was.

I wanted to talk to whoever owned the thing but no one was around.

By the way, I went to your blog and enjoyed it very much.

Brad said...

I remember my late father telling me about these when I was about 13... we were driving to a service call (My father had his own electronics repair business and I often assisted moving things...).

We had just left home - a small farm - and were heading down the county road to the west... I was very intrigued, and have often thought about that conversation, but never heard anything more about it.

Thanks for some MORE great info!


Anonymous said...

Anyone want to buy a Crosley Icy Ball? Great condition with original owners manual.

Wynn Baldock


James Christiansen said...


The US army experimented with these in the 60's for field use, and they worked fine for a small box, but trying to expand to larger containers wasn't successful. You can see their report here:

There is a company in Annapolis that produces a solar powered device working on similar principles, and has set it up in remote S.American fishing villages and African villages to provide ice for refrigerating fish & milk. I have an article on it, if you like, email me ( and I will send it to you. I know you decided to not publish your latest book, but present it as a blog, but will you put together another "writings of a deliberate agrarian"? The first was inspiring and thoughtful, and as you are still living, I doubt you are running out of those stories & experiences.

Kind regards,

James Christiansen

Anonymous said...

There is similar system in Europe.
We use it our motorhomes, or caravans.
It is possible to use it with 12Volt, 230 Volt or gas. It works just the same way as your old modell, they are just a little bit more modern!

Congratulation to your very informative weblog. I enjoy it a lot reading it.


David talpur said...
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Unknown said...

I have 2 Icyball cooling units and a top loading cabinet. I have the ice cube tray for one unit. I would like to find the other pieces such as the cooling bucket, the kerosene heater, owners manual and stabilizer. I'm intrigued by the system.

Roger D. from Iowa